Columns

Dead?

June 24, 2017 / Dick Duerksen

“If I go to heaven immediately when I die, why stay alive?”

It’s a question I’ve heard numerous times in my ministry. Usually asked by someone who is on hospice care, whose cancer has just been pronounced inoperable or whose family is far away and disinterested. Seldom does this question come from someone who feels the daily love of family and friends.

Life Markers

June 24, 2017 / Seth Pierce

At the time of this column I am wrapping up my second year of Ph.D. studies (and, no, I am not almost done). This semester’s final torture came in the way of a qualitative study involving conversion narratives. Our class interviewed 36 people about their conversion looking at common themes and questions asked during their process. While I will spare you the technical details — since they are reserved for an academic conference this fall — one common trait stuck out and has given me cause for reflection both as a pastor and a believer.

First-Degree Grace

June 24, 2017 / Martin Weber

Football all-pro Aaron Hernandez had everything to live for, seemingly. His starring Super Bowl performance earned him a $41 million contract extension. He had it made!

Then weeks later he was charged with (and ultimately convicted of) murder. Life behind bars was not what he signed up for, and he eventually committed suicide in his jail cell.

Essential Suffering

May 23, 2017 / Seth Pierce

Nothing heralds a holiday like stores loading their shelves with celebration-specific sweets three months prior to said holiday. The day after Halloween, Christmas candy is placed on display, the day after Christmas we are treated to Valentine’s Day candy, and after V-Day sugary Easter goodness glistens and beckons for us to consume it.

My personal favorite is Cadbury’s chocolate eggs. The bite-sized chocolate covered in a crisp candy shell. The texture of that candy shell crunching in my mouth is a delight I wait the entire year for.

My Salvation Army Funeral

May 23, 2017 / Martin Weber

Blessed are the peacemakers.

You never know who will show up at a funeral. Men who normally didn’t attend church listened as I eulogized Scottie, one of the regulars at our daily homeless ministry before he drank himself to death. His buddies were scattered throughout the Salvation Army chapel for the memorial service, along with my clergy colleagues in the community.

Scottie was of infinite value to God and to us, I explained to the group. Suddenly, Sam’s drunken hollering interrupted.

Hope Springs Eternal

May 23, 2017 / John Freedman

I never tire of experiencing life-changing, Holy Spirit-inspired miracles. And miracles are what I witnessed as Shawn Boonstra, Voice of Prophecy speaker and director, presented Jesus Speaks Peace recently at the Washington State Fairgrounds. God moved powerfully during these meetings. Several hundred good interests responded positively, undergirded by many volunteer prayer partners. During the short time I was there, I watched three joyful baptisms.

Salvation for Dummies

May 23, 2017 / Dick Duerksen

The “For Dummies” books have made a ton of money for writers and publishers. There are scores of titles, each one describing complex tasks in simple language. They’re the go-to books for those of us who get lost in the 12-page/five-language directions that come with our new purchases.

Plumbing. Learning Spanish verbs. Doing taxes. Beekeeping. List any subject, and Dummies.com probably has a book for it. There’s even a Revelation for Dummies!

However, when I did not find one covering salvation, that set me to writing.

Hide-and-Seek

May 23, 2017 / Seth Pierce

Playing hide-and-seek with small children provides minimal challenge. Often children select obvious places (hiding under a blanket in the middle of the room) or, if the lights have been turned out, will request that you hide with them. At times the anticipation of being found becomes intolerable, and they burst out of closets or cupboards yelling, “HERE I AM!” However, once children grow older they become adept at disappearing.

One Page

May 23, 2017 / Dick Duerksen

“And, finally, Lord, please bless the missionaries and the colporteurs around the world.”

The man assigned to the morning prayer in worship this week was one of the older elders, a retired pastor whose gray hair and halting steps spoke of many hard years. Clearly, he had thought through his prayer carefully and spoke to God for all of us as if he and God were having a personal conversation in his living room.

Will America Exchange Liberty for Security?

March 31, 2017 / Martin Weber

Will America forfeit civil and religious liberties in quest of national security? Our cities seethe with political and racial turmoil, while threats multiply from radical Islamic terrorism. Some foresee a crisis of such magnitude only God can save us. Desperate leaders could transform American democracy into theocracy.

How could that happen? What might it look like?

Consider the following imaginative scenario:[i]